You know many stories about Valiant Vrant. But not this one.
This is the best one.
You have heard the story about when Vrant was a soldier. His squad fought against evil Ogres. The squad's leader was captured. Vrant took over and led a daring rescue. After bringing the hurt leader to safety, Vrant was made squad leader. With his clever plan the squad killed the Ogre chief. Then the rest of the Ogre tribe fled. Two towns were saved.
You have heard the story about when Vrant went into the Enchanted Forest. He wanted his dagger to appear in his hand when he tapped the palm of his hand three times. The quest to earn that wish was hard. Vrant got his wish and four new scars.
You have heard the story about when Vrant was a spy. Evil counts and dukes would come in to their bedroom to find papers missing from their desks and Vrant's dagger on their pillow. Most of the time that scare was enough. They would act a lot less evil.
Today Vrant works in Arlinac Town. He trains the gate guards. He is an old man. But he still has adventures. You have probably have heard some of those stories too.
But not this story. Not unless you were there too.
I was there because am his grandson.
One day my brother was riding in a small cart. My brother had hurt his leg. That day he could only walk very slowly with crutches. But Grandpa Vrant had promised to take us to the harbor to watch the boats come and go. So he was pulling a small cart while my brother rode. I was walking next to them. I was too small to take a turn pulling the cart.
The street was almost empty. But the cart almost bumped a tall Therion. I did not see it. Did Grandpa Vrant pull the cart wrong? Did the someone step in front of us? Did a bump make the cart sway?
The Therion was very, very angry and yelled at Grandpa Vrant. "You almost hit me! You almost knocked me down! You should watch where you are going! How dare you? I should teach you a lesson!"
Vrant gently set the cart down and let go of it. His forehead was wrinkled. His eyes were hard. This was not Grandpa Vrant any more. I was watching Valiant Vrant.
Those hard eyes looked deep into the angry Therion. Vrant calmly said, "You should apoligize. I did nothing wrong."
The angry Therion kept yelling even over what Vrant had spoken. "See what almost happened? You are clumsy and old! You..."
Vrant walked closer to the angry Therion. The angry Therion backed away, then began to yell again. "You should apologize! Crazy old guy! I should teach you a lesson!"
Vrant kept slowly walking closer. He said, "No. You are acting like a bully. I did nothing wrong. I must show my grandchildren how to handle a bully. You will apologize, or I will hurt you."
The angry Therion could not back up any more, and yelled louder, "Go away! Go away!"
Vrant spat on the ground. "You said you would teach me a lesson. Twice you said that. Now act on your words." He pushed his sleeves up above his elbows.
The angry Therion yelled, "Go away! Crazy old guy! Go away!" and yelled other words that were very rude.
Vrant stood straighter. "Have you no integrity? Have you no honor? Do what you said!"
The angry Therion only yelled more rude words.
Vrant turned to look at my brother and me. "Look at this heap of trash," he said to us. "No integrity. No honor. No courage. It is barely a person!" The angry Therion sputtered.
Before the Therion could yell more, Vrant turned back and yelled first. "You!" He poined at the angry and shocked face. In a normal voice he said, "You have two choices. Choice one is to leave. Then those hurtful things I said about you will be true, perhaps forever. Choice two is to fight with me. The person I insulted would not—could not—do that. Prove my insults wrong. Leave that other person behind."
By now a small crowd was watching.
The Therion shook its head. "You are really crazy! I won't fight you! Go away!"
Vrant sighed. "You can run away from me. But you cannot run away from the anger. Face me. Leave that other person behind."
The Therion said, "No! Fighting cannot make me a better person!"
Vrant said, "Hurting people makes no one better. But being hurt can help you. You can learn how tough you are. Then when people call you a coward, you will know they are wrong because you will know how brave you are. Then when people call you weak, you will know they are wrong because you will know how strong you are. Then when the voices in your head call you a weak coward, you will push them out because you will know they are wrong."
The Therion said, "I can't fight you."
Vrant said, "You are not fighting me. You are fighting the old you, the person I insulted so rudely a moment ago." Vrant gestured at the crowd. "Look at them. They want the old you to lose. They want the new you to win."
The Therion began to cry and said, "I cannot."
Vrant yelled and pointed again. "You!" After the Therion met his eyes again his face softened. He said more quietly. "You can. Just by trying, you win."
The Therion sniffled. "I need help."
Vrant nodded. He backed up a few steps. He said, "The most dangerous things here are the stones of this road. You don't want to fall and hit your head or twist your wrist. Keep your balance. Do not try to kick me unless you know what you are doing."
The Therion listened.
Vrant continued. "Do not hit with a fist. Unless you know what you are doing, that can hurt your fingers. Push me. Slap me. Hit with your elbows if you can. Rush in, then back out of my reach."
The Therion stood there.
Someone in the crowd shouted, "Go!"
Someone else in the crowd shouted, "Go!"
Vrant's eyes hardened again. He asked the Therion, "The voices in your head that call you a weak coward...whose are they?"
The Therion whispered a name. At least I think so. Lips moved. Maybe Vrant heard, maybe not.
"Go..." said Vrant, urgently. His voice was not much more than a whisper. But the tone was like rushing a person to get out of a fire.
The Therion rushed forward. Vrant was Grandpa Vrant again. He was smiling like when my brother and I wrestled with him at home. He deflected the Therion's slap with his arm, and bonked the Therion on the side of the head with the side of his fist. The Therion stumbled, but did not fall.
"Keep going," my brother shouted. "Woo hoo!"
The Therion rushed forward again. And again. And again, and again, and again. With each try Grandpa Vrant bonked or pushed, almost causing a fall.
Then, on the seventh try, Grandpa Vrant was finally hit. An elbow hit Vrant's shoulder, hard. Grandpa Vrant fell down, but rolled, and was standing again.
"Keep going," my brother shouted. "Woo hoo!"
Everyone else watching was silent. They were older. They felt honored to watch.
"You can do better than that!" urged Grandpa Vrant. The Therion rushed forward again. After many more tries Vrant was hit a second time. Then a third time.
Five minutes later the Therion sagged to the ground, panting. It had many bumps and bruises. There was no anger in its face any more. Someone offer it a hand to regain its feet. I saw a quick grin.
Grandpa Vrant said louldly, "I do not see the Therion who insulted me. Does anyone else?" The people in the crowd shook their heads "no" to agree. A few people came to the Therion to offer small congratulations.
Grandpa Vrant returned to the cart. We went on our way.